I need people. I do. So do you.
I have other needs too. So do you.
Sorry-not-sorry if this hurts or triggers you – it definitely would have triggered me at one point. See, I had trained myself to believe that neediness is weakness, specifically my weakness. You could have all the needs you wanted, you deserved them. I did not and could not. I was an island, and I had to be self-sufficient.
I am writing this to you today after reading the above post on Instagram this morning. It resonated deep in my bones. Pair some childhood trauma with a working-class Catholic school upbringing and you have a recipe for disaster. As the naked vulnerability of sadness arose within following yet another dramatic interaction with a parent, the icy hand of my mantra comforted me as I gulped down tears and held quivering jaw stern –
You were put here to be alone. You cannot rely on them, they are not here for you. Other people get people, but that is not for you. You are loved, in a way, but you Kate Tittley, will have to do everything yourself. That is just how it is for you. Nobody is coming for you. You are on your own.
I do not remember the specific age I was when I first started this mantra, but I know it was very young, maybe just into double figures. Reading it back now…well fuck me that is a dark sentence to be formed by a child. Yet, that is what I genuinely thought, and this mentality had been etched on the stone tablet of my consciousness until more recently than I would like to admit.
It was comforting; whenever life threw me a challenge, something went awry, somebody left, I could find solace in this reminder. Perhaps it could explain a lot of my relationships/jobs/friendships – I was looking for people that would reinforce this perceived dharma. Searching for situations where I could be of service, my needs could remain entirely glossed over and thus cementing my solitude. For if I had any needs, for if I became vulnerable, then it would hurt…I did not want to hurt again.
So how did I break down my own walls? Well, I didn't do it for me. To begin with, I did it for you. You may be thinking ‘bit weird that Kate’, but bear with me.
I started to use myself as ‘practice as research’ - in a quest to be the best teacher I could be, I tested healing modalities, self care practices, rest etc, on myself, with a view that I could not authentically share something if I was not in fact doing it. This has since become one of the fundamentals of how I teach and how I live daily. The ‘problem’ was that it worked - I started to feel things, big things, things that needed healing. I started to notice when I fell back into old patterns. And weirdly, I felt compelled to share my findings. I figured if I told a good story, themes for class would be more relatable, and I could probably make you laugh with my tails angry baths, ‘ah ha’ moments by the Bollin and the realisation that if I ignore the boy that asked me to the pub upon entering the pub, he will probably stop inviting me out.
This was a particular staple of Friday morning’s class at Nuffield Didsbury. Some of you looked at me like I was batshit, some of you laughed along. Most excitingly, some of you told me it resonated with you. That was gold dust. Because finding out someone resonated with me meant that I was not the only one who felt this way, and that maybe Ram Dass was right when he said ‘we are all just walking each other home’.
The more I shared, the more honest I became with myself and you, the easier life began to feel. I was no longer hiding behind an armour of rock n roll cool where nothing (myself included) mattered. The kind of things that bothered me bothered you too, and the commonality of experience bought us closer together. The more I uncovered, the more uncomfortable I got, and yet the more I did - yoga retreats, women’s circles (quite literally the most triggering things I have ever sat in), dynamic meditation, coaching. I had looked over the precipice and deep into my internal well. Once upon a time I thought it was oil-slick with monsters and demons...and it was, but it also had black glitter and untapped awesomeness.
Having gone off on a bit of a tangent let me bring this back. Seeing these words I was reminded not only of how far I have come, but of one of my deepest ingrained patterns. Even though there is a residue in sentiment, I know that I have smashed this belief to pieces. The most prominent thing to emerge from this process for me, is that only by doing the things I feared the most - being honest, vulnerable, trusting - was I able to heal this wound. To allow myself to open up, to feel pain and for it not to be the end of the world because I had the tools I needed to put myself back together again.
You can absolutely love other people regardless of your own self-love state, the old adage is thoroughly incorrect. However, through becoming more honest with ourselves about what we need, we can see the needs of others, of our community and this planet more clearly than ever. We act with swifter action and greater compassion.
At the end of each class I invite us to offer gratitude for our bodies, minds, lives and communities; because I truly believe we are a part of something very special and in these divisive times coming together is a revolutionary act. However you have shown up, from the bottom of my heart I am exceptionally grateful to you for holding this space for each other and for me.
Now...let's go take over the world...xoxo